Netflix’s “I Lost My Body,” the existential adventure about a severed hand, won the Grand Prize award at the third annual Animation Is Film Festival, held last weekend at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. The Cannes Nespresso Grand Prize winner from French director Jérémy Clapin beat out GKids’ “Weathering With You,” the popular Japanese climate-change romance from “Your Name” director Makoto Shinkai, which shared the Audience award with “The Swallows of Kabul” (from French directors Zabou Breitman and Elea Gobbe-Mevellec) about love and horror during Taliban occupation.
In addition, Romanian director Anca Damian’s heat-tugger, “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (GKids,) earned the special jury prize for visual impact, exploring the memories of a mixed-breed Labrador with its various owners in a daring assortment of animated techniques.
The AIF win for “I Lost My Body,” the adult-themed, boldly graphic mystery about overcoming pain and suffering, means that the streamer’s release now has a leg up in the Oscar Best Animated Feature race (with a qualifying theatrical run November 15). Dev Patel, Alia Shawkat, and George Wendt lead the English-language cast, in which the hand fends off pigeons and rats to reunite with pizza boy Naoufel (Patel), who has fallen in love with librarian Gabrielle (Shawkat).
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“The jury salutes ‘I Lost My Body’ for its surprising and original use of animation as a means to tell an unconventional mystery, one in which the main character is a severed hand that experiences a wide range of emotions and adventures without the use of words,” said jury chair and Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge. “French director Jérémy Clapin’s unique feature uses visual storytelling in inventive ways, presenting the world from an unexpected perspective while teaching audiences how to interpret this innovative vocabulary as it unfolds.”
Other films in competition included: “Bombay Rose” (India/UK/France/Qatar), a hand-drawn celebration of memory, art, music and color; another Japanese water adventure, “Children of the Sea,” the latest from Studio 4°C, about a haunting whale song that serves as the catalyst of a cosmic event; “No. 7 Cherry Lane” (Hong Kong SAR China), which concerns a series of magical moments at the movies in 1967 Hong Kong; “Ride Your Wave” (Japan), about love and tragedy in a small seaside town between a surf-loving college student and a firefighter; “SHe” (China), a dystopian world populated by the ruling black male shoes and the oppressed female red high-heels with spindly vines; and “White Snake” (GKids, China), a fantastical adventure about trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, and the promise of eternal love.
The jury also included IndieWire editor-at-large Anne Thompson, Allison Abbate (EVP, Warner Animation Group), Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times film critic), Melissa Cobb (VP, Kids and Family, Netflix), Carolyn Giardina (Editor, The Hollywood Reporter), Jorge R. Gutierrez (director, “The Book of Life,” “Son of Jaguar”), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (director, “Kung Fu Panda” sequels, “Darkest Minds”), Charles Solomon (critic and animation historian), Mabel Tam (VP and head film buyer, Landmark Theaters).